For over a year, DJ Olivier Dalle has hosted a monthly dance event called Trans-Europe Express (named after the Kraftwerk album).
"When I started it, I had people screaming at me because I wasn't playing trance [dance] music. They thought it was Trance Europe Express."
The native of Lyon, France, starts his nights with Kraftwerk's "Trans-Europe Express" and follows it with other Eurocentric synthesized dance music: tracks by Soft Cell, New Order, Happy Mondays, the Shamen, and contemporary electronica artists such as Daft Punk and Swayzak. European images (Parisian bistros, industrial landscapes, trains traveling the countryside) are projected on the wall while he spins vinyl.
"I am not a professional DJ," says Dalle, who gives private French lessons for a living. "When we [Dalle and his wife] arrived here four years ago, we couldn't find anything we liked in the nightlife. I don't want to say San Diego nightlife is crap, but it wasn't like anything we wanted to take part of. It seemed like all the clubs were focused on the dating scene and hip-hop and R&B."
Dalle started playing music at French restaurants and then was invited to Kava Lounge last year.
"We sometimes had hard times when we first came here," says Dalle. "There was this big anti-French thing at the time. In '03 and '04, every TV sitcom had a French guy who was a villain or a bastard. In wrestling, the guy with a French flag would come out and get beaten up.... It's funny at first, but it starts to weigh on you. It was almost like being racially discriminated against."
People were not openly rude to Dalle, but business wasn't good.
"It's back to regular now, but for a while there was this anti-French thing and there wasn't much work. It was like the only ones who were studying French were doing it as a left-wing, anti-Bush statement."
Dalle says Trans Europe Express nights don't feature European cocktails.
"And some Americans come with this idea that they will find Europeans all dressed up and acting sophisticated. Kava is not very fancy. It's in an industrial area. I made this to be a loud European party."
Trans Europe Express returns to Kava Lounge on October 27